Courtesy: Benjamin Freedman
The women’s world record book has been rewritten in recent months in short course meters. From late October until the end of 2022, world records in six different women’s individual events were reset in SCM, including one by a whopping 10 seconds by Katie Ledecky.
With so many updates to the record books, it feels like a good time to take a look at which are the most dominant, or disparate, compared to the second-fastest swimmer in history.
|Rank||Event||#1 Swimmer||World Record||#2 Swimmer||#2 Time||% Difference|
|1||1500 free||Katie Ledecky||15:08.24||Sarah Wellbrock||15:18.01||1.06|
|2||100 IM||Katinka Hosszu||56.51||Sarah Sjostrom||57.10||1.03|
|3||100 fly||Maggie MacNeil||54.05||Kelsi Dahlia||54.59||0.99|
|4||200 fly||Mireia Belmonte||1:59.61||Liu Zige||2:00.78||0.97|
|5||50 back||Maggie MacNeil||25.25||Mollie O’Callaghan||25.49||0.94|
|6||100 free||Cate Campbell||50.25||Sarah Sjostrom/Emma McKeon||50.58||0.65|
|7||400 free||Li Bingjie||3:51.30||Summer McIntosh||3:52.80||0.64|
|8||50 breast||Ruta Meilutyte||28.37||Alia Atkinson||28.56||0.60|
|9||800 free||Katie Ledecky||7:57.42||Mireia Belmonte||7:59.34||0.40|
|10||50 free||Ranomi Kromowidjojo||22.93||Sarah Sjostrom||23.00||0.30|
|11||100 back||Minna Atherton||54.89||Katinka Hosszu||55.03||0.25|
|12||50 fly||Therese Alshammar||24.38||Ranomi Kromowidjojo||24.44||0.25|
|13||200 back||Kaylee McKeown||1:58.94||Katinka Hosszu||1:59.23||0.24|
|14||400 IM||Mireia Belmonte||4:18.94||Katinka Hosszu||4:19.46||0.20|
|15||200 IM||Katinka Hosszu||2:01.86||Kate Douglass||2:02.12||0.20|
|16||200 breast||Rebecca Soni||2:14.57||Evgeniia Chikunova||2:14.70||0.09|
|17||200 free||Siobhan Haughey||1:50.31||Sarah Sjostrom||1:50.43||0.04|
|18||100 breast||Alia Atkinson/Ruta Meilutyte||1:02.36||N/A||N/A||0.00|
No surprise here, Ledecky comes out on top.
After an incredible summer that included four long course world titles, Ledecky, who has rarely raced SCM throughout her career, obliterated the women’s 1500 free world record at the Toronto stop of the FINA World Cup circuit, stopping the clock in a time of 15:08.24. That put her nearly 10 seconds—9.77—under the previous mark set by Germany’s Sarah Wellbrock (née Kohler) of 15:18.01.
This swim stands up as the most dominant relative to the #2 time, as it’s 1.06 percent quicker than Wellbrock. Perhaps the most impressive part of Ledecky’s swim was that she neared the world record in the 800 free on the way, turning just 1.24 seconds shy of Mireia Belmonte‘s world record of 7:59.34 in 8:00.58.
Ledecky went on to break the 800 free world record the following week in Indianapolis, clocking 7:57.42.
Katinka Hosszu is another big name ranked highly on the list. A few months ago, we would have seen Hosszu at the top with her world record of 2:01.86 in the women’s 200 IM. However, after the Short Course World Championships in December, her ranking in that event has moved down to 15th, with Kate Douglass‘ swim of 2:02.12 putting Hosszu’s world record under threat.
Prior to Douglass’ swim, Hosszu held ownership of the entire top-10 performances list in the 200 IM was nearly two seconds quicker than former #2 Kaylee McKeown (2:03.68).
Hosszu remains up at #2 on the list by virtue of her 100 IM record of 56.51, joining Ledecky as the only two swimmers with a record more than one percent better than anyone else.
There are five female athletes who currently hold two world records in SCM. Of the five, Maggie MacNeil has the most dominance over the field in her two respective events, averaging out to be 0.965 percent quicker than the second-fastest ever in the 50 back and 100 fly.
|Swimmer||World Record 1||World Record 2||Average %|
|Maggie MacNeil||100 fly – 54.05 (0.99)||50 back – 25.25 (0.94)||0.965|
|Katie Ledecky||1500 free – 15:08.24 (1.06)||800 free – 7:57.42 (0.40)||0.73|
|Katinka Hosszu||100 IM – 56.51 (1.03)||200 IM – 2:01.86 (0.20)||0.615|
|Mireia Belmonte||200 fly – 1:59.61 (0.97)||400 IM – 4:18.94 (0.20)||0.585|
|Ruta Meilutyte||50 breast – 28.37 (0.60)||100 breast – 1:02.36 (0.00)||0.30|
The biggest drops in record dominance over the past year came from two events that didn’t see a new world record, but saw a #2 time near the all-time mark: Hosszu’s 200 IM and Rebecca Soni’s 200 breaststroke.
Hosszu’s 200 IM dropped 14 places, from first to 15th, while the 200 breast dropped eight spots, from eighth to 16th, after Russia’s Evgeniia Chikunova neared Soni’s record of 2:14.57 with a 2:14.70 European Record in November.